Home > About Apprenticeships > Apprenticeship or Internship: Which is Right for Me?

Apprenticeship or Internship: Which is Right for Me?

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 26 Mar 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Apprenticeship Internship Apprentice

Beginning an apprenticeship or an internship is a big commitment, and it is important that you understand exactly what you are letting yourself in for before you begin.

There remains some confusion regarding the nature of both apprenticeships and internships. They each have their own distinct characteristics, and each is suitable in different circumstances.

What is an Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a form of on-the-job training. It provides you with the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of a job while actually doing it. At the same time, you will study towards a formal qualification like an NVQ or a Foundation Degree.

Apprenticeships can be a very effective route into employment. Many apprentices remain with the same employer after having finished their course. Perhaps just as importantly, while you carry out your apprenticeship you will also be paid. Depending on your circumstances you will be entitled to be paid at least either the National Minimum Wage or the apprentice rate of £3.70 an hour (2018).

What is an Internship?

An internship is also a kind of on-the-job training. While apprenticeships are usually considered to be the preserve of ‘vocational’ industries, internships tend to be more common amongst office-based or other similar jobs.

Internships are not necessarily paid. Some are paid; this is particularly common in a small number of industries including medicine and law. In others, the intern will be paid travel or food expenses. Most commonly, though, the intern will receive no remuneration at all. Internships are sometimes carried out in exchange for ‘course credit’ at college or university.

There is no guarantee of a job at the end of an internship. Indeed, many internship programmes come in for criticism for taking people on for a few weeks, giving them menial tasks to complete, and then refusing to even offer them an interview. That said, there are many firms that run reputable internships schemes that can be of benefit to the individual.

Are Internships Legal?

In theory, yes. But many thousands of businesses across the country run internship schemes that fall foul of the law. If you have things like set hours during which you must attend the place of work, or if you have a set schedule of work, then you are likely to be classed as an employee. This means that you must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage. Failure to pay interns in this way will almost certainly mean that the scheme is being operated illegally.

So What are the Main Differences?

There is a series of significant differences between internships and apprenticeships. Perhaps the most important is their availability. Internships tend to be more readily available in ‘white-collar’ jobs, while apprenticeships are favoured in ‘blue-collar’ industries.

Apprentices are also guaranteed payment during their training. They will learn valuable skills that will help them to complete their job, and that will stand them in good stead for their career. Interns, meanwhile, have little or no guarantee that the work they will be asked to do is actually relevant to their career or their interests. Furthermore, interns may well not be paid for their work.

It is also important to remember that apprentices study for formal qualifications. They will normally work towards a knowledge-based qualification and a work-based qualification. This is very rare amongst interns.

So Which is for Me?

This very much depends on your individual circumstances. If you are looking for a route into a specific industry, and you know that you want to stay in that industry, then an apprenticeship might well be the right choice. On the other hand, if you want to increase your chances of getting a job, or if you are trying out a few different possibilities, then an internship is probably best. Apprenticeships tend to be most suitable for those who have a fixed idea of the industry in which they want to be.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Kerry
    Re: Wages and Funding for Apprentices
    I am 31 haven't worked for 12 years due to caring for my children. I would like to start an apprentice but because an…
    17 August 2019
  • Jo E.
    Re: Your Rights as an Apprentice
    My daughter has just started a hairdressing apprenticeship. She has been told that they will hold back her first two weeks salary.…
    14 August 2019
  • Ali
    Re: Wages and Funding for Apprentices
    Hi if I do a apprenticeship will I get any childcare vouchers help, my partner and I both work full and part time. Thanks ali
    9 August 2019
  • Mimph
    Re: Making an Apprentice Redundant
    My grandson has to attend a meeting to discuss reduntancy, his employers are trading at a loss. He has been informed he can take…
    3 August 2019
  • Cathy
    Re: Your Rights as an Apprentice
    Hi my son is 22 and just finished his first year in his apprenticeship, he had a meeting last month with his boss and was told he…
    30 July 2019
  • Staffy
    Re: Apprentices' Frequently Asked Questions
    Hi. I’ve paid for and completed my level 2&3 electrical installations course myself and working for a small company…
    26 July 2019
  • Chloe
    Re: Wages and Funding for Apprentices
    Hi, I have a 3 year old and wanting to start an apprenticeship 30 minimum a week on apprentice wage, I want to know if I’d…
    24 July 2019
  • Fraz1975
    Re: Your Rights as an Apprentice
    My son just lost his job today 3 years into his apprenticeship. The reason he was told was he was not up to standard even though…
    23 July 2019
  • Fraz1975
    Re: Can I Sack an Apprentice?
    My son was in his 3rd if his apprenticeship, he went to work as normal today and got sacked now he said that he never had any warning…
    23 July 2019
  • Tine
    Re: Working Hours and Holidays
    My daughter is employed as a hairdresser apprentice in Glasgow. Now she has been hospitalized and will probably stay for more than 4…
    18 July 2019